Wrote this as raw response to what I (white male, 38) was watching happen in my surrounding area and my circles of friends family & acquaintances. Spent much time grappling with whether or not to share this. But silence fuels evil and condemns change. I want this to be out there.
Yo i’m mad. I’ve just been mad and stressed for a week or two straight. Fuck COVID, i’ll stay indoors all day and do whatever they ask. I’ll go to work if need be. I’ll do what i’ supposed to do as a gear in the machine. I’ve long sacrificed my visions and dreams to being a part of a company that I don’t care about. I don’t have the ambition to turn my skills or talents into a money making solution. I am just a person inside the shell of a retail manager. But going to work and seeing people NOT caring about any of the stuff that could have their lives and the lives of people they know (or don’t know) hurts.
I worry about applying the same concept to this issue of race. It makes me nervous to think that people are out there “waiting” for it to be over. “Waiting” for the anger from the BLM movement to disappear. To move on to something else. I want this shit to change in such a massive way that who we are today is not who we are in the society that BLM wants to restore us to. I want humanity to win.
I have 260 followers on Twitter, maybe 350 on Instagram. I continue to think about what I want to post on there, from strong political statement to a list of black art and culture i want to celebrate to retweeting or reposting powerful messages from black people who are making a stance. I feel like I don’t believe anything is worth it. There is so much noise on there that I don’t want to add to it, but also I don’t want to post anything funny or positive or observant or musical to get in the way of it. It’s a confusing time. But i want to see this confusion through to its end. I invite it. This is where we should be, where i should be, in order to get to the next phase of our culture as an american people, as a human race.
Listening to rap music isn’t celebrating black culture.
Having black friends isn’t making a global change.
If you are a white person “worried” about being called racist, then you definitely have skeletons in your closet. You fear being discovered. You fear being identified. If you are not racist, if you have been an ally, a supporter, a beacon, a trusted member of society at large, you have nothing to concern yourself with. Be right. Do right. If you have fear, if you are threatened, if you worry about this shit, do better. Make better choices. Realign your thoughts.
I see your eyes go shallow when a black person enters the room. I hear you sigh. I hear you change your language to aggressive and/or defensive, i hear you sigh. I watch your breathing reframe your posture. Because they’re black. Because you’re mentally preparing yourself for dealing with a black person.
Black friends across America are setting up guidance counselor offices for their white friends. Waiting with baited breath for the text, “hey man, i have a few questions.” Or “hey man, have i ever done anything racist or out of line?” Seeking their Black Penance.
I’m not holier than anyone else. I’ve made the same shit jokes that other white suburban kids have made, lacking the understanding or perspective that these jokes come from a hateful place, even if spoken without the hate you believe it needs to fuel it. “I was just joking around”; “not to be racist, but…”; “I said it with an A, i didn’t say ER”; “I didn’t mean YOU”. Even though most of this happened what seems like forever ago, it hangs on me heavily, especially in the past week or two. It’s a scar forever. It’s dumb shit.
I’ve tried to educate friends and family through little lessons here and there in reaction to what they’ve said or thought. I’ve tried to curb things that employees or coworkers have said in the past. I’ve tried to highlight the way people have phrased things to point out the White Discomfort that they feel when they have framed black people and black behavior in euphemisms that they’ve tried to veil their disdain with. I’ve even screamed, louded out and ignited a fear in someone for using The Word in my place of business. It’s not enough. It will never be enough. It will always just be “Steve goes a little crazy about stuff like that.” Why am I crazy about it? Why aren’t you just fucked up for getting to that place? Maybe the majority is wrong. Maybe they’re all just crazy and I’m the one being drowned out by centuries of foul thought.
I’m terrified that nothing will change.
I imagine in the 40s and 50s, a black family sees their black child and thinks “I will keep my head down and I will work hard so my child can see a future where he can no longer be separated, no longer be marginalized,” and to see them today heartbroken that their child is a grown man still in the same climate but with redrawn boundaries and newly shaped hatreds. I think of the next generation of black men and women have a new generation of black boys and girls and being angry, infuriated that the world their parents promised them is just as damned as the one they walk in. I want today’s youth, this young and innocent and powerful generation to be the last one that has to hope, that has to wish, that has to struggle, and has to endure. I want them to reflect on a time that their parents and grandparents fought through so that THEY were able to stand on the even ground that they stand on in our future. I want that they can go through this life unscared.